In business-to-business (B2B), it’s not enough to be creative when coming up with new value propositions and business models. You need to be creative about how to test those new ideas, too.
I often hear from innovation teams inside B2B companies about the difficulties of conducting tests around new business ideas. Eric Ries, in his new book, refers to a really good example about B2B testing that I want to highlight here.
Basically, a company wanted to test a new medical device to see if doctors were interested in the solution. Rather than just asking the doctors to gauge interest, the team asked them to sign a letter of recommendation to the hospital administrator. The letter simply recommended the medical device, and aimed to get the hospital administrators to sign the documents.
It’s a great example of an experiment that goes beyond asking people about their interest. Signing a paper to the hospital administrator gets the doctors to have “skin in the game” even if the document has no legal value. It’s a lot stronger evidence of interest than a “yes, I’m interested”, which costs doctors nothing.
The above is also a great example of an experiment that doesn’t require you to physically build anything just yet. In B2B I often hear people say “we can’t do testing because an MVP in our industry would cost $20m”, or they mention regulation as a barrier to testing. That’s just not true. start getting creative with your experiments!